Supplement Recommendations


First, thanks for taking the time to read my question. I appreciate your busy, so I will make it quick. My question pertains to supplementation of creatine for an athlete following CFFB.

Do you think it is worth supplementing if the athlete has all the other areas of their training, such as nutrition and recovery in check?

Once again, thanks for great programming.


Al Mondz

supplement reccomendations #1


I have been meaning to write up a recommendation for supplements for a while, so thanks for submitting your question.

There are many conflicting opinions on supplementing. I think first and foremost, that if your training and food intake is not taken seriously, you are wasting your time with supplements. With that said, there are hundreds and thousands of supplements on the market today. Just click on for a glimpse of what is out there. Everything from MEGAXPLODE 9000 to crushed yak testicles claims to aid in performance.

Supp rec #2

How are you suppose to know what works and what is a waste of time? Hopefully, I can take some of the guess-work out of the equation by telling you what I have found works and what I like. Keep in mind I have got my blood work done every 6 months since 2001. So I have a pretty good idea of what protocols are working to optimize my blood work and how it is affecting my training and performance

I am pretty basic when it comes to supplements, but what I lack in creativity I make up for in quality. I rather take a few basic items that are both high quality and useful, than use the rotational shotgun approach favored by so many.

The rotational shotgun approach consists of buying 6 supplements, taking them for a month and when you run out, repurchasing the 3 you thought were working of them and try 3 new ones. You continue on this program for at least 6 months before you start to believe supplements are a waste of time and money.

My first experience with supplements came in 1990 via my training with George Zangas. George not only made the Marathon super suits and power wraps but he also owned Marathon Nutrition, a supplement store in Rolling Hills, CA.

He was very good with supplying us with daily vitamins and protein shakes. But back in the early 1990’s, the protein drinks tasted so bad you had to psyche up and hold your nose to slam a blender full.

In 1992, George gave my brother Ed and I a brown box filled with 12 white bottles filled with white powder. He told us it was a new supplement that was hitting the market soon called Creatine Monohydrate. He explained creatine naturally occurred in red meat and helped to supply energy to the all cells in the body, but primarily to muscles. It worked by increasing ATP levels (adenosine triphosphate) in the body.

I looked at him with a vague understanding as my high school chemistry and bio classes had covered ATP. ATP is the immediate energy source for muscle cells at high intensities of exercise. When I asked how it was going to help, he told me it would increase size and strength of my muscles by allowing me to train harder and recover faster.

Needless to say we started taking creatine that day…and I have taken it ever since.

In those days, creatine monohydrate was the only type of creatine on the market but today there are ½ dozen types. I have always used basic creatine monohydrate but have experimented with liquid creatine and conjugated creatine.

I personally, have never noticed a huge difference between different types of creatine. What has always been the deciding factor in its effectiveness was how and when I took it.

I take creatine pre and post workout. I take it with an easy digestible protein and a simple sugar. Back in the day, I would take it with grape juice. But for the last decade, I have taken it with simple carb, dextrose or vitargo, whey protein and branched chain amino acids.

As for a loading phase, I take 10 grams of creatine monohydrate, 4 times a day for 5 days. Then I take 10 grams in my pre workout shake and 10 grams in post workout shake on training days.

I repeat the loading phase every 3 months as long as I am training. If I took time off from training or dial back the intensity of the workouts I cut the creatine from the routine. When I start-up again, I use a loading phase.

*Please remember, I have been taking creatine for over 20 years and tip the scales at just under 300 lbs. I also have a stomach made of cast iron. So if you have never experiment with creatine, start conservative as too much and you will get diarrhea and cramping. Make sure you drink water. I drink at least 1.5 gallon of water daily.

Since I was young, I have taken a multi-vitamin first thing in the morning and right before bed. Over the years this evolved into a large handful of vitamins that I had to buy separately. This becomes cumbersome as time goes on.

Fast-forward to 2004 and I meet Dr. Tom Incledon from Human Performance Specialists in Arizona.

In 2004, I was traded to Kansas City. Upon arrival they put me up in a hotel not far from the stadium. I lived there for a few months while training with the team. From the day I walked into the hotel, I felt terrible and even after I left the hotel I felt sick. The sick feeling lasted the entire year and my season ended with a torn groin and a banged up knee. I knew something was wrong but none of the team doctors I had approached could tell me what was wrong. A good friend pointed me to Dr. Incledon. He told me if something was wrong Tom could find it. He ran dozens of blood tests and found I had been exposed to high levels of toxic mold. Of the 13 types he tested me for, I had toxic levels of all 13. He started me on anti-viral meds, supplements and IVs. In a matter of days I felt better, and made a full recovery in a few weeks time. When I headed back to Kansas City, I stopped by the hotel only to find out it had been closed for renovations. Someone working there had contracted Legionaries Disease and they tore the place to the studs in the renovation.

Part of my supplement routine since 2004 has included HPS’s Performance Packs. They provide vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fish oil, and fruit and vegetable extracts. I take them twice a day and have done so since 2004. I notice when I miss taking them for a few days.

Tom has been my go to guy for supplements and blood testing for many years. He works with many of the top professional athletes in the NFL, MLB, NBA and MMA and is known throughout the world for his expertise. His supplements are the highest quality on the market and used by many of the professional sports best athletes.

Supp rec #3

Tom has two other products I swear by: Renew Male and Joint Performance.

The Renew Male sounds like some cheesy late night infomercial supplement but that is not the case. The product improves the pathways in the brain and the testes to increase testosterone and lower cortisol. Cortisol is a stress hormone that even elevated is responsible for poor testosterone levels, body fat and poor performance.

Joint Performance works by inhibiting inflammatory cytokines and enzymes that break down cartilage. It contains the best form of glucosamine (glucosamine sulfate) and provides the ideal molecular weight of chondroitin sulfate to provide max absorption, hyaluronic acid, which increases lubrication in joints and reduction of inflammation.

The next on my list is whey protein. I am pretty simple when it comes to whey protein; lowest amount of ingredients wins. I also prefer whey from grass-fed cows. While processed whey doesn’t contain the fats necessary to see a benefit from this, it is sustainable and supports a market for GF cows. This translates into not supporting feedlots, making meat from GF animals available and ensuring our planet’s survival.

The brand I have been taking consistently for the last year is from Evolve Foods. You can find it at in the few days. Evolve Foods will provide me with a CFFB discount coupon for the protein, so stay tuned.

And lastly, BCAAs or branched chain amino acids fill out my list of recommended supplements. BCAAs are the building blocks of protein and have various functions related to energy production and recovery. It prevents the breaking down of muscle during exercise and increases performance. We have spoken on the topic of BCAAs in other posts on TTMJ, so do a search. I feel they are fundamental if you are going to use supplements. I have been using SciVation’s Xtend as of late but I am searching for a better variation. Once I find something better, I will let you know.

My supplement routine is as follows:

7 AM – Before Breakfast
1 AM Performance Pack
2 capsules Joint Performance

Noon – Pre-Workout
2 capsules Renew Male
40 grams Evolve Foods Whey Protein
50 grams of simple carbs
10 grams of BCAAs
10 gram of Creatine

2 PM – Post-Workout
40 grams of Evolve Foods Whey Protein
50 grams of simple carbs
10 grams of BCAAs
10 grams of Creatine

9 PM – Before Bed
1 PM Performance Pack 
2 capsules Joint Performance
2 capsules Renew Male

I hope this helps clear up some confusion and get you pointed in the right direction.

Posted in Football, Supplements, Talk to Me Johnnie | Tagged , , , | 85 Comments

85 Responses to Supplement Recommendations

  1. Boyd

    How much are you spending per month on these supplements?

  2. Pingback: Monday 7.23.12 « Crossfit South Bend blog

  3. Sam L

    Thanks John. Going to order some of these. You should tell people that you are an affiliate and are getting paid for the Renew male and maybe others.

    • If by getting paid you mean getting some free supplements, then I am getting paid. But before you get too proud of yourself I can forward you the 10’s of thousands of dollars in bills I have spent with HPS in the form of testing and supplementation over the last decade. I take performance seriously and I dont support or recommend anything I dont use and believe in. And felt that I should share what I take and where I get it. Next time I will keep it to myself.

  4. grunt-life

    i will go ahead and do the keyboard samurai’s a solid……John, it was grape draaank.
    -you’re welcome

  5. Thanks John. I’m now 36 and I’m looking for a supplement to support joint health. $50/month isn’t ridiculous, but I may search for a cheaper solution with similar ingredients.

    For folks not really taking any supplements, as far as getting going and prioritizing bang vs buck, I would rate them like this:

    0. Get your food right. Eat like John says to
    1. Creatine. Dirt cheap and highly effective. I prefer but you can get it anywhere.
    2. Fish oil. Especially if your diet isn’t very clean. This will help lower systemic inflammation and support recovery.
    3. Whey protein. You covered this.
    4. BCAAs pre and post workout. Cheap, effective.
    If your overall diet isn’t very balanced, you can include some kind of multivitamin here or even higher, but if your diet is decent I don’t think it’s necessary.

    • I think the right multi-vitamin is important. There is no way to get everything you need from food if you are hard training individual.

    • I know everyone is always searching for the cheapest option, but every time I see someone refer to a company as “dirt cheap” i cringe.

      In life and especially supplements, you get what you pay for. And many times I rather pay a few bucks more and get a higher quality item then get the “dirt cheap” as I know how they cut their costs.

  6. Rus

    Any issues with Renew Male for the <30 y/o guys? Any issues with cessation of use?

    • I think the renew male works well for any guy. It works more on the signaling from the brain to the testes. I currently am taking it.

  7. Hacksaw

    Is anyone familiar with the multi-vitamins from Mark Sisson and Primal Nutrition? I currently purchase these. The vitamin profile seems pretty good (comparable to the HPS link), and while not quite as expensive as the HPS brand, it’s certainly not cheap. I’m just hoping that they aren’t “cutting their costs” and skimping on quality.

    Thanks for any help. I fully admit my expertise is not in nutrition and supplementation, so a lot of what a follow depends on this site and a select few others.

  8. Josh

    Ive been taking creatine, bcaa’s, mlti vitamin and whey. Rescently started adding l-carnitine and tyrosine pre and taurine post. What’s your take?
    As always, much appreciation.

  9. Jason B

    Thanks a lot John!
    I’ve been increasing the volume and intensity of my training consistently for a while, and my recovery has been keeping up until just recently; now I’m looking into ways to keep the volume up, and the recommendations here will be a great starting point.
    I have found one “supplement” to be very effective: grass-fed liver.

  10. Alex Mondz

    Cheers John, great post.

  11. Harry

    Great post. Supplements and sport products are something rammed down our throats by marketing departments (excuse the pun) and knowing which ones actually work becomes a challenge. Thanks for sharing your experiences, it’s really helpful.

    There was a recent investigation by Oxford University into the scientific studies and research behind the claims made in the marketing and advertising materials for sports drinks, trainers and nutritional supplements. You can read about it here: Their findings were ‘interesting’ and to quote nutrition expert Professor Mike Lean of the University of Glasgow, he described the evidence that BCAA may improve muscle strength as “absolutely fringe evidence and I think that that is almost totally irrelevant, even at the top level of athletics”. The same findings also describe whey protein as ‘expensive milk’ (which we all already knew).

    To summarise their findings, they basically described it all as moonshine, cloaked in a single tiny grain of partial truth. They suggested you could source all the appropriate nutrients from a good diet without the need for supplements. From my own experiences with BCAA and whey, I’ve found recovery time improved and a reduction in general aches. I take these in conjunction with a multivitamin and a well balanced diet of seven meals a day with lots of water. Creatine is still something I’m yet to try.

    John, looking at your supplement routine, you take the BCAA once before and once after a workout. Do you take them on rest days too? I’m rather ashamed to admit this but the advice I was given for supplementing BCAA’s came from a friend who bodybuilds and he recommended taking them every main meal.

  12. Ty Fyter

    Hey Johnnie! Thanks for posting this, sometimes people can’t get why people wouldn’t supplement to get peak performance (I think you mentioned it in a previous post), no one should strive for sub-par.
    Anyways, not sure if I’m web illiterate but I couldn’t find a whey powder on the evolve site you linked to. Also is it available in Australia? Even in dedicated bodybuilding stores there is a preponderous amount of either soy protein, corn syrup or other squirrelly ingredient which is a tad annoying. So for the mean time I’ve ditched the whey and just use Xtend’s BCAA. Would be good to get a quality, GF, whey protein.

  13. Mike Ricci

    You said you drink 1.5 gal water a day. Any advice on how much water I should be shooting for if I’m doing GOMAD? I figure I get some amount of hydration from the milk.

    While I’m at it…somebody in CFFB’s comments this past week was ragging on common store whole milk as not being too great, especially compared to raw milk. What’s your take?

    Thanks for everything, John.

    -Mike, m/170/25

  14. JWild

    John, thanks for the insight, I for one appreciate it, your years of semi-annual blood tests are more research and validation then I could hope to do right now, and I will take your reccomendations as gospel, look forward to that CFFB coupon code.

  15. Matt S

    For the lazy, that daily supplement routine (just from the hyperlinked items) comes out to be around $450/mo. To be clear, it’s probably more expensive than that – I didn’t include the BCAA and Creatine costs.

  16. JFD

    Thanks, John. This will save me many months of time – my most precious commidity.

    Couldn’t help but laugh at the comment on the terrible taste of early 90s protein shakes. I recall gagging on disgusting clumps of Hot Stuff in 91-92; that stuff tasted like a rotten banana pulled out of dirty diaper.

  17. Rich

    John please don’t let any negative posts keep you from sharing this type of information with us. For those of us who crave kowledge on the nutrition & supplementation that a professional athlete uses this is priceless.

    I come to TTMJ & Crossfit Football for advice & knowledge that I know will yield results. I am going to try some of the supplements you’ve recommended in this articele. Thank you very much for what you do.

  18. adam

    great post. thanks john.

  19. Pingback: On Your Own | Cannon Crossfit

  20. Steve

    Thanks, on the Renew Male do you take just the Renew Male or the full pack with the Estro Performance and Aspartic Acid?

  21. Matt

    I like USP labs Modern BCAAs . Fruit Punch

  22. Ryan

    So can CFFB be done well/properly without any supplementation if my diet is Paleo with Whole Milk (i.e. “Tell me what to eat”)? Is it a detriment to do the program w/o supplements or am I simply going to progess slower?

    • Anything can be done. I would say much like using lifting shoes, racks and any other performance aid, supplementing your training with BCAAs, whey protein and a few other things is helpful.

  23. John, super helpful. Don’t let any haters keep you from giving the rest of us the info! If they don’t trust you, fuck ’em, they can go somewhere else.

  24. wolfgang

    TTMJ is one of my favorite resources. Please don’t stop posting on here John.

    I ordered some renew male. Can’t hurt to try it I figure 🙂

  25. Jesse

    John, I second Josh’s comment. It seems obvious that if this had anything to do with getting paid, you wouldn’t be giving away free training and consultation when you could be charging. Thanks for freely sharing in order to bennit others. It’s nice to be able to trust someones motives. Keep the info coming!

  26. Ingo B

    John, any merit to ZMA?

  27. Anthony S


    They don’t play football at Oxford.

  28. Chris

    John thanks for the post it is very insightful. I have been looking for a product like the performance pack and the stuff from hps looks great and if your recommending it, it must be top quality. But is there a similar product you could recommend I am looking for something a little more cost effective. A $140 is a little steep on my budget. I understand you get what you pay for and quality is everything but monthly ther will not work.
    Any comments on stuff from companies like At Large Nutrition?? Thanks

    • I met Chris Mason while at Westside but have not tried all their products. The whey resulted in some wicked bloat but I can’t say anything about anything else.

      Here is a story…I have a good doctor friend. I will write about him on TTMJ when I am done with the blog. He worked as the DC for an NBA franchise for 19 years. He was working on a player and his body was no responding to the treatments like it did in the past. He asked what he had changed in his diet/nutrition. He told the doc he started taking vitamins given by the trainer. Turns out the team had a supplement sponsor and had given the guys free supplements. My doc got them tested and found they were full of toxins. He complained and was let go by the team.

      The moral of the story is you do not know what someone is putting in the supplements unless you know the company and have experience with them. I only recommend things I have used for a period of time and believe in.


  29. TommyChucks

    Great post John. New to CFFB & enjoying the progress thus far. I’ve never supplemented with Creatine before and there is so much information on the internet (Bad & Good) that it’s hard to get any true facts on long term effects, if any. What are some of the possible side effects, what has your research shown, etc. Just curious. Thank you again for the great programming and TTMJ.

    • Personally, I have seen none. But I also drink water, eat well and train hard…or at least I used to train hard. My training got cut in 1/2 due to CFFB, TTMJ and 2 kids.

  30. Thanks much for the info. Greatly appreciated.

  31. EJ


    Tony Gonzalez mentions you in his book (The All Pro Diet) and lists you as a supporter on his website of his All Pro Science supplements, but you’re not taking anything of his supplements.

    Not trying to combative, just trying to understand if you’re supporting Tony because of a true friendship or because of the quality of the supplements.

    • Yes, Tony and I are good friends. We went to college together, played in KC and I stood up next to him when he got married. I could him as a close friend.

      I have tried and used APS when Tony was apart of the company. I liked their protein and creatine. However, Tony has not been involved with APS in over a year and was bought out by his partner in early 2012. I have not taken any of the products in a while as APS had a pretty small shelf-life.

      APS’s protein was very good but the quality and leadership have gone down hill and so has the company. Evolve Foods has gone to the same channels to make a Whey from GF cows that was a few ingredients. It is home run and should be available from the website any day I am told.

      HPS is a quality company and run by one of the smartest people I have ever met. Dr Incledon is Lalonde smart.


  32. Sean R

    Thanks for the insight, John. Funny how people feel a need to bitch about price when someone who’s actually done something puts his protocol out there.

    • For years I have recommended supplements and try to provide good recommendations. Finally I decided to put links in the write ups so people could find the products I use and people are unhappy with it. If someone asks me what I take and what I think works, I am going to tell them.

  33. Pingback: Black Box WODs: Friday 120727 | CrossFit NYC

  34. Jay

    Great info John.

  35. Pingback: Saturday 7.28.12 | Crossfit Murphy

  36. Pingback: 30 July 12 - Crossfit Silver Spring

  37. «Josh

    Thanks a lot for the article John.

    I`m just curious have you given Beta Alanine a try?
    Do you still take glutamine?
    And do you consistently use caffeine or drink cofee PreWo?


  38. Lauren

    How about supplement recommendations for women? 🙂

  39. While I am not a women but my wife takes the HPS performance packs, probiotic, vit D, 5-HTP, and DHA.

    And HPS Gut Health.

    I think some creatine and BCAAs are safe and have benefits for supplementation. The biggest thing is that you are eating a high protein diet.

  40. Justin

    Other than Vitargo, what do you mix into your shakes for simple sugars? Any particular brands/products you’d recommend? Thanks.

  41. Alan

    John, have you ever taken a melatonin supplement?

  42. Pingback: Thursday 2nd August « KB CrossFit

  43. John

    Thanks for the post John! Its all very helpful!

  44. Casey

    John, I currently take 5g of creatine daily in a post-workout recovery drink. I also take 5g on rest days. If I were to include another 5g pre-workout would I take 10g on my rest days?

  45. Mike James


    Appreciate the time and effort you put into posting, means a lot. Your knowledge on how the body works is truly valuable to people who don’t quite see what’s happening behind the scenes.

    Currently taking ProAnox Genesis. I was wondering if you had any information or views on this supplement vs HPS Performance Packs?

    I take SFH fish oil, creatine monohydrate and BCAAs.

    I appreciate your time.

  46. Andrew

    Hi John,
    Don’t usually comment much anymore (I’ve got twins as well and they’re a handful!) but just wanted to chime in today. For those of us who have been following your program for a while; we know you post good info with no bullshit. So don’t listen to some of these people trying to discredit what you’re writing. Thanks for all you do, it’s really appreciated by a lot of people, as I’m sure you know. The supps you mentioned look gold, I’ll definetly be hitting them up. I’m spreading the good word over here in Australia as much as I can, so thanks again mate.

  47. Pingback: TTMJ: Supplement Recommendations «

  48. W

    So…do you have to cycle the renew male? I’m hugely skeptical of “prohormones” in general, but at 30 years old and trying to become a competitive weightlifter, I’m damned curious when some come along that get a recommendation I actually kind of trust. $200 is a helluva lot to shell out, though.

    • Cycle? It is not a steroid. Prohormone? It is not a prohormone. It is a combination of a few things that improve the feedback in the loop between the brain and the testes. I take 2 pre workout and 2 before bed.

  49. Pingback: Sprinting and poetry, August Specials, New Gear | Round 1 Fitness

  50. Israel

    John, for the Renew male, do you just take the one supplement or all th other “booster” products as well like the Estro Performance and D Apaartic Acid? Just want to make sure I understand your recommendation clearly. Thanks!

    • I just take the renew male but Tom has been talking about doing the full package for a while. The renew male has been very beneficial on its on, but I know a combo of the estro + aparatic acid works wonders.

  51. Tim D


    Is there any chance that you would be willing to come to my garden once a day and pee on my spinach plants? I am looking to create a super food of my own.

  52. JR

    Very cool post. I scheduled an appointment with HPS after discovering that I live within a mile of their office. I will post back my experience at a later date. Thanks again for all you do.

  53. Tom


    When you find a better variation of the SciVation’s Xtend let us know. The food dye is a bit of a turn off. It’s hard to find a good BCAA without carbs and artificial ingredients.

  54. Pingback: 08/28/12: Gasser | CrossFit 908

  55. Pingback: WOD 8/29/12 | | Colonial CrossFit - CrossFit Ft Lee | Gyms Chesterfield VAColonial CrossFit - CrossFit Ft Lee | Gyms Chesterfield VA

  56. Jonathan

    How do/did you tackle it with supplements when you have 2x/3x a day practices? For example a Gym-session(CrossFit Football session) + 1 or 2 Football trainingsessions in a day.

  57. Kelly

    Hi John, attended your CFFB in Philly and was looking forward to this post. This is great information. My question…what about for the ladies? Any recommendations?

    (no testes so no Renew Male, but would love to find something that would be beneficial and would lower cortisol)

    • Kelly,

      I need to do more research as the supplement game for ladies can be tricky. Three things are important to female athletes…a high protein diet, enough calories (99% of women under eat and wonder why they are not looking or performing the way they want) and enough sleep. HIIT creates a nice lactic acid bath for the muscles, from this comes a nice GH response, couple that with a high protein diet, enough cals and good sleep and you are starting to see how many of the top CF Female athletes could step on stage and win a figure/bodybuilding show.

      Best thing to do is get your cortisol levels checked via saliva test. If everything is running properly, hammer down. A steady diet of protein, sleep, heavy weights and HIIT is a recipe for success.


  58. dave

    Thanks for the write up john.

    Im of the belief that the last paragraph of your very last post (just above this post) is very valid for all athletes regardless of gender.

  59. Russ

    awesome info. going to make this my new road map.

    do you have a creatine mono brand you love? and an L-Glutamine while you are at it?

  60. Pingback: Week 12 – Session 1 / CrossFit Rugby / Dragon Crossfit / Crossfit In Cardiff / South Wales / UK

  61. Christopher

    How do you take your Creatine? What do you mix it with?


  62. I agree with all of the above.

    Gotta add 1 to 2 grams of crystalline Vitamin C per day, guys.

  63. Ty Fyter

    i notice that Xtend BCAAs list sucralose as an ingredient, is it either:
    a.) a benign ingredient or
    b.) in an amount so small it doesn’t matter

    thanks for this post john,
    Ty Fyter

  64. Pingback: The Top Seven Supplements For Crossfit Domination |

  65. Pingback: Top 7 Supplements for Crossfit | Crossfit Los Gatos

  66. Erica

    So do you have any suggestions/modifications for women? I don’t think I would benefit from the ‘Renew Male’


  67. Erica

    I didn’t read all the comments, disregard my prior question

  68. Mason

    Could you post and updated link to the “joint performance” nothing shows up when I click on it. Also, I visited the HPS website and searched the web and wasn’t able to find it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *